Whereas modern medicine relies heavily on examinations, tests and investigations to reach a diagnosis, for medical herbalists, the consultation is our main diagnostic tool. By giving the patient the time and space to tell their story, we are able to form a picture of the history and progression of an illness, and consider the psychosocial factors that have contributed to an imbalance of health over the patient’s lifetime.
Open discussion is also therapeutic in its own right, and many people do feel that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. The herbalist does not act as a counsellor but as a listener, and a provider of a space in which it is safe to share and be understood.
The initial consultation is 1 – 1.5 hrs and covers the following topics:
- historical factors behind the development of the presenting complaint
- factors which modify the presenting complaint (ie. make it better or worse)
- current and previous medication
- information about the patient’s constitution
- social and medical history
Follow-up consultations are 30-45 minutes and address treatment progress as well as any new symptoms or concerns. It is common to have the first follow-up appointment 2-3 weeks after the initial consultation, and thereafter at 4-6 week intervals, depending on the severity of the condition and response to treatment.
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